The evolution of No. 9 Sherwood's offense was personified last night by running back Brian Gunderman as he walked off the mud pit that was Seneca Valley's field.
Caked in mud, the No. 6 across the back of his jersey barely visible, Gunderman, had just run for 184 yards on 30 carries to lead the Warriors past previously undefeated and No. 13 Seneca Valley 21-6. He was walking proof that the team that relied so heavily on its passing game last season now has a ground game to go with it.
When Gunderman went down with a broken ankle midway through last season, the Warriors became almost exclusively a passing team. Quarterback Deontay Twyman was the beneficiary, passing for 2,126 yards, but Gunderman's absence left a void.
"There was a lot of pressure on the running game coming into the season," Gunderman said. "Tonight we knew we weren't going to be able to pass as much as we'd like and everybody stepped up."
Gunderman assured Sherwood Coach Al Thomas a happy homecoming in his first game against his former team. He scored his lone touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage, a 37-yard run that saw him slash through the heart of Seneca Valley's defense. During one drive in the third quarter, he carried the ball on 11 of 12 plays to set up a Warriors touchdown.
Though the weather limited what Sherwood (5-0) could do through the air, Twyman connected with Matthew Hough on a 16-yard touchdown pass to put the Warriors up 13-0 during the second quarter.
"Pick your poison," Twyman said. "When Brian's running the ball like this, teams can't just focus on me so we're not one-dimensional."
Thomas was the first coach in Seneca Valley history, leading the Screamin' Eagles (4-1) to five state titles from 1974 to 1987 before his current assistant, Terry Changuris, took over and won seven more.
Said Thomas: "I was kidding around with the guys and I said, 'I look at that muddy field out there and I see a little bit of my blood and my heart.' "